Friday, January 18, 2008

Ranking the regions: #5 2-AAAA

5. 2-AAAA

Power teams:Westlake has proven themselves this year as one of the top powerhouses in the state. One of the reasons for the team's success is the strength of the region. Raymond Willis is one of the most dynamic players in the state and can flat out score the ball with the best of them. He is a contender for the class AAAA Player of the Year. His supporting cast isn't too shabby either. In fact, Westlake's starting five might be the best in the state. Gideon Gamble, a Winthrop signee and fellow senior Khamori Watts hold down the backcourt while underclassmen Javoris Bryant, a junior, and Marcus Thornton, a sophomore, are a tough 1-2 punch on the blocks.

Led by one of the state's top juniors in Noel Johnson, Fayette County can't be counted out on any given night. With Johnson on the floor, the Tigers have 30 points at all times with him. Brandon Boykin, a Georgia football signee, and Addison Flynn hold down the backcourt. Fayette County will play the three other likely state playoff teams in the next two weeks. They will determine their own destiny with a great finish.

Pay close attention to Creekside. The Seminoles are anchored by Kevin Murphy, one of the most dynamic scorers on the south side of Atlanta. The 6-foot-5 guard can score with the best of them. All of the team's losses have come at the hands of state playoff contending teams and odds are, the Seminoles look strong in the home stretch within region play.

Sleepers: The middle of the pack is deep in 2-AAAA. McIntosh, Banneker and Woodward Academy are all trying to make the fourth place spot for the state playoffs.

Notes: There might not be a better home court advantage in Atlanta than Westlake's gym. The days of getting to the school 20 minutes before the girls game to guarantee a parking spot on campus are almost over as the new school and new gym will open next year. It has been over a year since the Lions lost a home. Keep an eye on the Jan. 25 game against Fayette County. Get there early or else you'll be walking a long time to get to the gym because of the lack of parking.

Three of the best pure scorers in the state call 2-AAAA their home region, too. Westlake's Willis, Fayette County's Johnson and Creekside's Murphy, all 6-foot-5 or taller, are tremendous scoring wings.

Playoff projection: Westlake, Fayette County, Creekside, McIntosh

Counting down the regions

6. 2-AAAAA

7. 5-AAAA

8. 2-AAAA

9. 5-AAAAA

10. 6-AA